Brown students booed New York City police commissioner Raymond Kelly off the stage in Providence, R.I., Tuesday night as he was giving a speech, MSNBC reports.
Kelly was scheduled to speak at the Taubman Center for Public Policy on the subject of “Proactive Policing in America’s Biggest Cities.” Students heckled him for about 30 minutes in protest over the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy before university officials cancelled the event citing the “disruptive” crowd’s “indefensible” interruptions.
Student protestors began shouting as an administrator requested that comments and questions be saved for the question-and-answer session after the speech. This prompted one student to shout that they would not stop until “you stop stopping and frisking people,” earning the speaker general applause. Another person in the crowd yelled, “Racism is not for debate!”
Kelly reportedly told the crowd, “[I] thought this was the academy where we’re supposed to have free speech.”
Brown University released a statement with comments from university president Christina Paxson defending its decision to end the lecture:
The actions that led to the closing of this afternoon’s lecture prevented any exchange of ideas and deprived the campus and the Providence community of an opportunity to hear and discuss important social issues. […] The conduct of disruptive members of the audience is indefensible and an affront both to civil democratic society and to the University’s core values of dialogue and the free exchange of views.
The Brown Daily Herald reported that 100 student protested before the speech, circulating a petition calling for Kelly’s speaking fee to be donated to nonprofits that work to end racial profiling. Students also held a vigil in honor of victims of racial profiling.